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Existence of God- Book 2- Chapter 1

Book Second

CHAPTER I.

EXISTENCE OF GOD.

THERE IS A GOD.[1]

The doctrine that God exists, is not now to be demonstrated as a new truth. It has been supposed in all the preceding pages; and the proofs of it have been brought to view, in various ways. But, for the sake of systematic arrangement, it will be proper to collect these proofs under one head; and a clearer statement of them will tend to the confirmation of our faith.

1. Our moral nature demonstrates the existence of God.

Our moral nature is adapted to moral government. We find this government within us administered by conscience, and it meets us from without in the influence which we experience from the moral judgments and feelings of others. It restrains our appetites and passions; and, however unwelcome this restraint may be to our vicious propensities, every one knows that it is conducive to his well-being.

We are social as well as moral beings. The circumstances in which we enter the world, and the propensities which we bring with us, unite to render the establishment of society necessary. The birds congregate in flocks, and the bees in swarms, and their instincts are adapted to the social relations which they form. To man in society, moral principles are indispensable. Banish from every member of human society the restraints which his conscience and the moral sense of the community impose on him, and you will desolate the earth or convert it into a hell. Brute-force and diabolical cunning, under the dominion of lawless passions, will take the mastery of the world, and fill it with wretchedness.

From the combined influence of our moral and social principles, civil governments have originated, and their existence has been found by experience indispensable to the well-being of society. These governments have differed very widely in their degrees of excellence; and some of them have been most unrighteously and cruelly administered; yet the very worst of them has been considered preferable to wild anarchy.

The notion of moral government, and the feeling of its necessity, spring up naturally in the human mind; but no earthly form of it satisfies our desires, or meets our necessities. Conscience restrains us; and, when we have disregarded its monitions, stings us with remorse; but men are still wicked. Public sentiment stamps vice with infamy; but, in spite of public sentiment, men are vicious. Civil government holds out its penalties, and the ruler brandishes his sword; but men persevere in wickedness, and often with impunity. The voice of nature within us calls for a government free from these imperfections. If, from the idea of a petty ruler over a single tribe or nation, we ascend to that of a moral governor over all intelligent creatures; if instead of the imperfect moral judgments and feelings which we find in men, we attribute to this universal ruler, all possible moral perfections, if we invest him with knowledge sufficient to detect every crime, and power sufficient to manifest his disapprobation of it in the most suitable and effectual way; and if this exalted sovereign, instead of being far from us, is brought into such a relation to us, that in him we live, move, and have our being; we shall have the most sublime conception of moral government, of which our minds are capable. This conception is presented in the proposition, THERE IS A GOD. The idea of God’s existence, as the moral ruler of the universe, accords precisely with the tendencies and demands of our moral nature; and, without admitting it, our moral faculties and the phenomena which they exhibit, are totally inexplicable.

The moral principles of our nature find occasion for development and exercise, in the relations which we sustain to our fellow-creatures. But, for their full development and exercise nothing furnishes opportunity, but the relation which we bear to God, and his universal dominion. This exercise of them constitutes religion. Religion is, therefore, the perfection of morality; and the fundamental doctrine of religion is the existence of God.

2. The existence of the world and the contrivances which it contains, demonstrates the existence of God.

While our moral nature leads us to the conception of God, as the moral governor of the universe, and to the belief of his existence, our intellectual nature approaches him, as the Great First Cause. Reason traces the chain of cause and effect throughout its links. It finds every link dependent on that which precedes it; and it asks on what does the entire chain depend? It obtains no satisfactory answer to this question, until it has admitted the existence of an eternal, self-existent, and independent being, as the first cause of all things. Here, and here only, the mind finds repose.

The argument which has been most relied on in natural religion, to prove the existence of God, is derived from the indications of contrivance, with which Nature abounds. The adaptation of means to ends, and the accomplishment of purposes by contrivances of consummate skill, are everywhere visible. Contrivance implies a contriver. The intelligence displayed is often found in creatures that have no intelligence; and in other cases, when found in intelligent creatures, it is manifestly not from themselves; because it exists without their knowledge, and operates without their control. The contrivance must be referred to an intelligent First Cause. This argument for the existence of God, is of great practical value, because it is presented to our minds daily, and hourly, in all the works of Nature. We meet it in the sun-beams, which impart to plants and animals, the warmth necessary to life; and to every eye, the light without which eyes would be useless. It presents itself in the eyes of every man, beast, bird, fish, insect, and reptile, and is most convincingly exhibited in the arrangements for receiving and refracting the light, and employing it for the purposes of vision; a contrivance as truly mechanical, and conformed to the laws of optics, as that which is seen in the structure of the telescope. We behold it in the descending shower which fertilizes the earth, and causes the grass to grow; and in the bursting germ, the spreading blade, the rising stalk, and the ripening grain, in all which a skilful contrivance is displayed, that infinitely transcends all human art. We discover it in the instincts by which the parent hen hatches her eggs, and takes care of her young; and in the adaptation of every species of animals on land, in air, or in water, to their mode and condition of life. It is seen in the return of day and night, the revolution of the seasons, the wind that sweeps the sky, and the vapor that rises from the ocean, and floats through the atmosphere. We find it in the bones of the body, fitted for their respective motions, and in the muscles which move them; in the throbbing heart, the circulating blood, the digesting stomach, and the heaving lungs. In every thing which the eye beholds, or the mind contemplates, we discover the manifestations of the Creator’s wisdom and power. The devotional heart is struck with the evidence of God’s existence, so abundantly displayed in all his handiworks, and is incited to admire and adore. The whole universe becomes a grand temple, pervaded with the presence and glory of the deity; and every place becomes an altar, on which may be offered to him the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

3. The doctrine that there is a God, is confirmed by the common consent of mankind.

There have been tribes of men without literature, and, to a great extent, without science and arts; but the notion of an invisible, overruling power, with some form of religious worship, has been nearly, or quite universal. In this particular, man is distinguished from all other animals that inhabit the globe; and if there has been any portion of our race in whom no idea of God and religion has appeared, it may be said of them, that they have so far brutalized themselves, as to hide from view the characteristic distinction of human nature. Now, however it may be accounted for, that a belief in the existence of God has prevailed so generally among mankind; the fact of its prevalence is an argument for the truth of the opinion. If it is an ancient revelation handed down by tradition, that revelation proceeded from God, and therefore proves his existence; and if it springs up naturally in the human mind, in the circumstances in which we are placed, what Nature universally teaches, may be received as true.

4. Divine revelation dispels all doubt as to the existence of God.

In the Bible, the existence of God is from the very first assumed. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”[2] The doctrine, though formally declared in scarcely a single passage, is represented as fundamental in religion. “He that cometh to God, must believe that he is;”[3] and the denial of it is attributed to folly; “the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”[4] The volume of revelation is a light emanating from the Father of lights, and is, of itself, an independent proof of his existence. As we study its pages, in his light we shall see light; and a more realizing and abiding conviction that he, the great Source of light, exists, will occupy our minds.

The perfect harmony between natural and revealed religion, with respect to this doctrine, confirms the teaching of both. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.”[5] While heaven and earth, day and night, speak for God, he speaks for himself in his inspired word, confirming the testimony which they give, and completing the instruction which they convey. Revelation never contradicts or sets aside the teachings of natural religion. God affirms, that “the invisible things of him are from the creation of the world clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; even his eternal power and Godhead”[6] It is no derogation from the authority or perfection of the Scriptures, that we study natural religion. The Scriptures themselves direct us to this study. “Ask the beasts, and they shall teach thee, and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee.”[7] The same God who speaks to us in his word, speaks to us also in this works; and in whatever manner he speaks, we should hear, and receive instruction.

It is a lamentable proof of human depravity, that men should deny or disregard the existence of God. We read of the fool who says in his heart, there is no God; of nations that forget God; and of individuals who have not God in all their thoughts. Such persons do not delight in God; and therefore they say, “Depart from us; we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” Of such atheism, the only effectual cure is a new heart. For the occasional suggestion of atheistic doubts, with which a pious man may be harassed, the remedy is, a diligent study of God’s word and works, a careful marking of his hand in Providence, and a prayerful and confiding acknowledgment of him in all our ways. If we habitually walk with God, we shall not doubt his existence.

The invisibility of God is one of the obstacles to the exercise of lively faith in his existence. It may assist in removing this obstacle, to reflect that the human mind is also invisible; and yet we never doubt that it exists. We hear the words, and see the actions of a fellow-man, and these indicate to us the character and state of his mind, so as to excite in us admiration or contempt, love or hatred. If, while we listen to his words, and observe his actions, we clearly perceive the intelligence from which these words and actions proceed, why can we not, with equal clearness, perceive the intelligence from which the movements of nature proceed? If we can know, admire, and love, an unseen human mind, it is equally possible to know, admire, and love an unseen God.

[1] Gen. i. 1; Ps. xiv. 1; Mark xii. 32; 1 Cor. viii 6; Heb. iii. 4.

[2] Gen. i. 1.

[3] Heb. xi. 6.

[4] Ps. xiv. 1.

[5] Ps. xix. 1, 2.

[6] Rom. i. 20.

[7] Job xii. 7.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Sources of Knowledge-Book 1-Chapter 2

Book First

CHAPTER II.

SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE.

We find ourselves in a world where we have no continuing abode. Within us, and without us, we have proofs and admonitions that our chief interests lie in another world, and that our chief business in this is to prepare for the future state, into which we shall very soon enter. We need information respecting that unseen world and the right method of preparing for it, and no other knowledge can be so important to us as this. Can it be that we have no means of acquiring it? For our guidance in the things of this world, every necessary provision has been made. We possess eyes; and the world in which we are placed affords the light that is needed to tender them useful in directing our steps. We possess understanding; and means of knowledge from without are presented, by which we may select the objects of our pursuits, and the best methods of gaining them. We may hence infer that some means of knowledge respecting our highest interests must exist. The sources from which this knowledge may be obtained, are the following:

1. Our moral and religious feelings.—Brute animals have instincts by which they are guided; and in man, also, instinctive propensities exist, adapted to his nature and the condition and circumstances of his being. Maternal affection is not confined to brutes as an instinct peculiar to them, but it is found in the highest degree in the human mother; and in her breast, mingles with moral and religious feelings peculiar to human nature and inseparable from it. The human mother feels the moral obligation to take care of her child, antecedent to all reasoning on the subject. When we determine what is right or wrong by a process of reasoning, we judge according to some law, or rule of right; but, in this case, the mother is a law to herself. She needs no teaching from without, to inform her that it is her duty to take care of her offspring. Sin may so debase human nature, that mothers may evince no moral feeling; but, however it may be buried under our corruptions, the moral principle is an element of our nature. Because of it, even the heathen are a law unto themselves, and show the work of the law written in their hearts. The moral feeling which at first co-operates with the mother’s instinctive affection to induce her to take care of her child, co-operates afterwards with her reason in devising the best method of promoting its good.

When it was to be determined which of two women was the mother of a living child claimed by both, the wisdom of Solomon decided, that the maternal relation existed where maternal affection existed. On the same principle we may, from our moral and religious feelings, infer our relation to moral government and to the Supreme Ruler. From this law, written in the heart, we might obtain much religious knowledge, if the fall of man had not obscured the writing.

2. The moral and religious feelings of our fellow-men.—We are formed for society, and are capable of benefiting each other in the things of this life, and of that which is to come. The judgments of others assist our judgments; and their moral and religious feelings may, in like manner, assist ours. In the approbation or disapprobation of mankind, we may find an important means of knowing what is right or wrong. Hence, it is a rule of duty to do those things which are “of good report.”

If an ancient writing is transmitted to us in numerous copies, all of which are mutilated and greatly effaced, the probability of ascertaining what the original was is far greater, when we compare many copies with each other, than it would be, if we possessed one copy only. For the same reason, the moral and religious feeling of mankind generally, is a source of knowledge more to be relied on, than that which is opened for our examination in the moral nature of a single individual. A hardened transgressor’s own conscience may fail to reprove him, when his crimes shock the moral sense of the whole company; and, from their disapprobation, he might learn the iniquity of his conduct, though all moral feeling were extinguished in his own breast.

In examining this second source of knowledge, we observe the common consent of mankind, that there is a God; that he ought to be worshipped; that there is a difference between virtue and vice; that a moral government exists, which is partly administered in this life by Divine Providence; that the soul of man is immortal; and that a future retribution awaits all men after death. These truths of religion appear in the history of mankind, through all the corruptions which have covered and obscured them.

3. The course of Nature.—Things are so arranged by the Creator and Ruler of the world, that some actions tend to promote, and others to destroy, the happiness of the individual and of society. By observing the tendency of actions, we may learn what to do and what to avoid. God has established the nature of things, and the voice of Nature is the voice of God. Conscience is God speaking within us, but, because of man’s apostasy from God, it often delivers false oracles. Hence, we do well to turn our ear to the voice of God, speaking in universal Nature.

The tendency of vice to produce misery, is obvious to every one who observes the curse of things around him. Drunkards and gamblers, impoverish themselves, ruin their families, waste their health, and bring themselves to an untimely grave, not unfrequently by violent, and sometimes, by suicidal hands. In ten thousand ways, crime of every species exhibits its pernicious tendency, and, in this arrangement of things, the moral government of God is clearly seen, and the conduct which he approves, is pointed out by the finger of his Providence. Enough of God’s moral government appears in the present life, to demonstrate its existence; and the imperfection which is manifest in its present administration, furnishes satisfactory proof that it extends beyond the present life, and is perfected in the world to come.

The religious knowledge which may be obtained from the three sources which have been enumerated, constitutes what is called Natural Religion. Though insufficient to meet the wants of man in his fallen condition, it teaches the fundamental truths on which all religion is based, and leads to the higher source of knowledge by which we may become wise to salvation. That is

4. Divine Revelation.—Because all other means of knowledge are insufficient to bring men to holiness and happiness, God has been pleased, in pity to our race, to make known his will by special revelation. Besides his voice in conscience and in Nature, he utters his voice from heaven. This revelation was anciently made by prophets, who were commissioned to speak to men in his name, and afterwards by his Son from heaven. To us, in this latter days, he speaks in his written word, the Bible, which is the perfect source of religious knowledge, and the infallible standard of religious truth.

The Bible consists of two parts:–1. The Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures. This is the book very carefully preserved by the Jews throughout the world, and held sacred by them as a revelation from God. 2. The New Testament. This consists of various writings, which have been carefully preserved by the Christians of past ages, and are now regarded by them as a revelation from God, made through the immediate followers of Jesus Christ.

We shall here assume that the Bible is a revelation from God. If the reader has any doubts on this point, he may study, to advantage, any of the numerous works extant on the Evidences of Christianity; or, in the absence of more elaborate productions, he may read a small tract by the Author, entitled The Origin and Authority of the Bible. [This Tract has been introduced into the present work as an Appendix]

Inspiration and transmission of the Scriptures.—The Bible, though a revelation from God, does not come immediately from him to us who read it, but is received through the medium of human agency. It is an important question, whether its truth and authority are impaired by passing through this medium. Human authority was employed in the first writing of the Scriptures, and agency was employed in the first writing of the Scriptures, and afterwards in transmitting them, by means of copies and translations, to distant places, and succeeding generations.

The men who originally wrote the Holy Scriptures, performed the work under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Such was the extent of this influence, that the writing, when it came forth from their hands, was said to be given by inspiration of God. So Paul said, with special reference to the Old Testament: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable . . . that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto good works.”[1] Though Moses and the prophets executed the writing, it is said to have been given by God, and the perfection attributed to it demonstrates that it had not suffered by the instrumentality which he had chosen to employ. Christ referred to the Hebrew Scriptures, as the word of God.[2] Paul represents what was spoken by the prophets, as spoken by God.[3] Peter attributes to the writings of Paul equal authority with that of the Old Testament Scriptures.[4] Paul also claims equal authority for what he spoke and wrote.[5] Christ promised to his apostles, after his departure, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and described the effect of his influence on them in these words: “It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your father which speaketh in you.”[6] This gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them on the day of Pentecost; and their possession of it was proved by their power to speak with tongues, and work miracles. From all this, we learn that what was spoken and written by inspiration, came with as high authority as if it had proceeded from God without the use of human instrumentality. While Peter said to the lame man, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up, and walk,”[7] the voice which spoke was Peter’s, but the power which restored the ankle bones was God’s. The words, though Peter’s, were spoken under divine influence, or the divine power would not have accompanied them. So the gospel, received from the lips of the apostles, was received, “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God.”[8] The men who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, were the instruments that God used to speak and write his word. Their peculiarities of thought, feeling, and style, had no more effect to prevent what they spoke and wrote from being the word of God, than their peculiarities of voice or of chirography.

The question, whether inspiration extended to the very words of revelation, as well as to the thoughts and reasonings, is answered by Paul: “We preach, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.”[9] The thoughts and reasonings in the minds of the inspired writers, were not a revelation to others until they were expressed in words; and if the Holy Spirit’s influence ceased before expression was given to these thoughts and reasonings, he has not made a revelation to mankind. On this supposition, we cannot read the Bible as the word of God, but as the word of men; of good and honest men, it is true, but nevertheless of fallible men. The opinion that the expression is merely human, undermines the confidence with which the word of God deserves to be regarded; because we know not when, or how far, that expression may fail to convey the meaning of the Holy Spirit. It can no longer be said, that the Scriptures are “a more sure word of prophecy,”[10] that “they cannot be broken,”[11] and that the things written “are the commandments of the Lord.”[12]

The doctrine of plenary inspiration, if properly understood, does not imply that the Holy Spirit employed the writer as an unconscious instrument. It maintains that his memory, and other mental powers, were employed in the execution of the work, as truly as his hand; but it insists that the latter was as certainly controlled by the unerring guide as the former. Nor does the doctrine imply, that the Holy Spirit is the original author of every word contained in the sacred volume. It records the speeches of Satan, and of the Orator Tertullus, and records them faithfully; but the Holy Spirit was not the author of these speeches.

In 1 Cor. ch 7, Paul distinguishes between what he delivered, as a commandment of the Lord, and what he spoke without such commandment. It may appear, at first view, that he disclaims inspiration with regard to the things of the last kind. But if it be admitted, that these things were matters of human advice with out divine authority, it does not follow, that the writing which contains his advice, is uninspired. The inspired word which records the speeches of Satan and Tertullus, may record the prudent counsel of a wise apostle, even when that counsel does not come with the full sanction of divine authority. But, in giving this counsel, Paul says, “I think that I have the Spirit of God,” v. 40; and, if he thought that he gave it by the Spirit, it would be rash in us to think otherwise. We are not to understand the word “think,” as implying doubt in Paul’s mind, and we need have no doubt that the counsel which he gave, was by the wisdom from above.

Although the Scriptures were originally penned under the unerring guidance of the Holy Spirit, it does not follow, that a continued miracle has been wrought to preserve them from all error in transcribing. On the contrary, we know that manuscripts differ from each other; and where readings are various, but one of them can be correct. A miracle was needed in the original production of the Scriptures; and, accordingly , a miracle was wrought; but the preservation of the inspired word, in as much perfection as was necessary to answer the purpose for which it was given, did not require a miracle, and accordingly it was committed to the providence of God. Yet the providence which has preserved the divine oracles, has been special and remarkable. They were at first committed to the Jews, who exercised the utmost care in their preservation and correct transmission. After the Christian Scriptures were added, manuscript copies were greatly multiplied; many versions were prepared in other languages; innumerable quotations were made by the early fathers; and sects arose which, in their controversies with each other, appealed to the sacred writings, and guarded their purity with incessant vigilance. The consequence is, that, although the various readings found in the existing manuscripts, are numerous, we are able, in every case, to determine the correct reading, so far as is necessary for the establishment of our faith, or the direction of our practice in every important particular. So little, after all, do the copies differ from each other, that these minute differences, when in contrast with their agreement, render the fact of that agreement the more impressive, and may be said to serve practically, rather to increase, than impair our confidence in their general correctness. Their utmost deviations do not change the direction of the line of truth; and if they seem in some points to widen that line a very little, the path that lies between their widest boundaries, is too narrow to permit us to stray. As copies of the Holy Scriptures, though made by fallible hands, are sufficient for our guidance in the study of divine truth; so translations, though made with uninspired human skill, are sufficient for those who have not access to the inspired original. Unlearned men will not be held accountable for a degree of light beyond what is granted to them; and the benevolence of God in making revelation, has not endowed all with the gifts of interpreting tongues. When this gift was miraculously bestowed in ancient times, it was for the edification of all: and now, when conferred in the ordinary course of providence, the purpose of conferring it is the same. God has seen it wiser and better to leave the members of Christ to feel the necessity of mutual sympathy and dependence, than to bestow every gift on every individual. He has bestowed the knowledge necessary for the translations with which the common people are favored, is full of divine truth, and able to make wise to salvation.

A full conviction that the Bible is the word of God, is necessary to give us confidence in its teachings, and with respect for its decisions. With this conviction pervading the mind when we read the sacred pages, we realize that God is speaking to us, and when we feel the truth take hold of our hearts, we know that it is God which whom we have to do. When we study its precepts, all our powers bow to them, as the undoubted will of our sovereign Lord; and when we are cheered and sustained by its consolations, we receive them as blessings poured down from the eternal throne. Nature and science offer no light that can guide us in our search for immortal bliss; but God has given us the Bible, as a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path. Let us receive the gift with gratitude and commit ourselves to its guidance.

[1] 2 Tim iii. 16, 17.

[2] Mark vii. 13.

[3] Heb i. 1.

[4] 2 Peter iii. 16.

[5] 1 Cor. xiv. 37; 1 Thess. iii.10.

[6] Matt x. 20.

[7] Acts iii. 6.

[8] 1 Thess. Ii 13.

[9] 1 Cor. ii. 13.

[10] 2 Peter i. 19.

[11] John x. 35.

[12] 1 Cor. xiv. 37.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Free Ebook- The Doctrine of Revelation

March 25, 2016 3 comments

dfcfaa851be481f5b59bf2e9fe3b47d0_f2485Doctrine of Revelation, The

by Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)

Available in Epub, .mobi, and Pdf

God speaks to us by His Spirit, in the Scriptures. The Doctrine of Revelation explores that reality, how God communicates, and what that means for us. From the author’s Introduction: “Our principal object will be to set forth some of the numerous indications that the Bible is something far superior to any human production, but before doing that we must seek to establish the existence of its divine Author. The later chapters will be designed chiefly for preachers or older students of the Word, presenting as they will some of the rules which require to be heeded if the Scriptures are to be properly interpreted; and though their scope will go beyond the general title of ‘divine revelation,’ yet they will complement and complete the earlier ones.”

Pages: 256.

Item code: dore.

Format: paperback.

 

 

Source [Chapel Library]

Is the Existence of the NT Canon Incompatible with Claims of New Revelation?

January 12, 2016 1 comment

By Michael Kruger

“God has spoken to me.”

There are few statements that will shut down debate more quickly than this one. If Christians disagree over a doctrine, a practice, or an idea, then the trump card is always “God has spoken to me” about that. End of discussion.

But, the history of the church (not to mention the Scriptures themselves) demonstrates that such claims of private, direct revelation are highly problematic. Of course, this doesn’t mean that God doesn’t speak to people. The Scripture is packed with examples of this. But, these were typically individuals with a unique calling (e.g., prophet or apostle), or who functioned at unique times in redemptive history (e.g., the early church in Acts).

After the first century was over, and the apostles had died, the church largely rejected the idea that any ol’ person could step forward and claim to have direct revelation from God. This reality is probably best exemplified in the early Christian debate over Montanism.

Montanism was a second-century movement whose leader Montanus claimed to receive direct revelation from God. In addition, two of his “prophetesses,” Priscilla and Maximilla also claimed to receive such revelation. Such revelations were often accompanied by strange behavior. When Montanus had these revelations, “[He] became obsessed, and suddenly fell into frenzy and convulsions. He began to be ecstatic and to speak and to talk strangely” (Hist. Eccl. 5.16.7).

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

In His grace and wisdom God has fully provided against our forming misconceptions of any part of His Truth

Arthur PinkIN His grace and wisdom God has fully provided against our forming misconceptions of any part of His Truth, by employing a great variety of synonymous terms and different modes of expression. Just as our varied senses, though each imperfect, are effective in conveying to our minds a real impression of the outside world by means of their joint operation, so the different and supplementary communications of God through the many penmen of Scripture enable us to revise our first impressions and enlarge our views of Divine things, widening the horizon of Truth and permitting us to obtain a more adequate conception of the same. What one writer expresses in figurative language, another sets forth in plain words. While one prophet stresses the goodness and mercy of God, another emphasizes His severity and justice. If one evangelist exhibits the perfections of Christ’s humanity, another make prominent His deity; if one portrays Him as the lowly servant, another reveals Him as the majestic King. Does one apostle dwell upon the efficacy of faith, then another shows the value of love, while a third reminds us that faith and love are but empty words unless they produce spiritual fruit? Thus Scripture requires to be studied as a whole, and one part of it compared with another, if we are to obtain a proper apprehension of Divine revelation. Very much in the New Testament is unintelligible apart from the Old: not a little in the Epistles requires the Gospels and the Acts for its elucidation.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Creation Then Covenant

In our first installment, we noticed that eschatology drives revelation, and revelation, in turn, drives the illumination of that covenantal structure by which our God has deigned to communicate His will to us in an ever-increasing manner of promise, via the historic covenants, which promises find their final form in that which we call the ratified Covenant of Grace, which is the New Covenant.

In our second installment, we noted that God relates to us, in His revelation, by covenants. We also noted that “covenant” is not a construction superimposed upon the Scripture, and so revelation, but that it is imbedded within it by our God from before the world began, so it behooves us to pay attention.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

What Is Covenant Theology – A Continuing Introduction

Creation Then Covenant

In our last installment, we noticed that eschatology drives revelation, and revelation, in turn, drives the illumination of that covenantal structure by which our God has deigned to communicate His will to us in an ever-increasing manner of promise, via the historic covenants, which promises find their final form in that which we call the ratified Covenant of Grace, which is the New Covenant.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

A Call for Christian Rationality

By W. Gary Crampton

We live in a day when the Apostle Paul’s sermon on Mar’s Hill to the first century philosophers concerning the worship of an unknown god (Acts 17) is all too relevant. Our age is awash in irrationalism; it may even be the “age of irrationalism.” And far too many in allegedly Christian circles are espousing an irrational theology in the name of Christ. Nonsense, as C. S. Lewis once predicted, has come. Twenty-three years ago John Robbins correctly assessed the situation:

“There is no greater threat facing the true church of Christ at this moment than the irrationalism that now controls our entire culture. [Totalitarianism], guilty of tens of millions of murders, including those of millions of Christians, is to be feared, but not nearly so much as the idea that we do not know and cannot know the truth. Hedonism, the popular philosophy of America, is not to be feared so much as the idea that logic – “mere human logic,” to use the religious irrationalists’ own phrase – is futile.1…”

Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987) is an example of one such thinker. Van Til maintained that there is no point at which man’s logic and knowledge are the same as God’s. Due to this lack of a point of contact, logical paradox must exist in Scripture.11 Van Til went so far as to say that “all teaching of Scripture is apparently contradictory.”12 Van Til’s irrational thought opened the door to all sorts of theological and philosophical errors in putatively Reformed circles.13…

Another contemporary theologian of irrationalism is John Frame, formerly of Westminster Seminary, now of Reformed Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Professor Frame would have us believe that “Scripture, for God’s good reasons, is often vague.” Therefore, wrote Frame, “there is no way out of escaping vagueness in theology.” He continued:

“Scripture does not demand absolute precision of us, a precision impossible for creatures…. Indeed, Scripture recognizes that for sake of communication, vagueness is often preferable to precision…. Nor is theology an attempt to state truth without any subjective influence on the formulation. Such “objectivity,” like “absolute precision,” is impossible and would not be desirable if it could be achieved.17…”

 

 

 

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Christian Perspective on John Frame

By John W. Robbins

Perspectives on the Word of God, An Introduction to Christian Ethics, John M. Frame. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1990, indexes, 66 pages, $5.95.

It is always instructive to read books written by seminary professors, for from these books Christian laymen can find out what is being taught in the seminary classes. From these books we learn what the future teachers of the church have already learned, and that, in some cases, is not only instructive, but positively alarming.

John M. Frame is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary in California. This book comprises three lectures, the Kenneth Kantzer lectures, that he delivered at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois in November 1988. The lectures are entitled: “The Nature of the Word of God,” “The Media of the Word of God,” and “The Word of God and Christian Ethics.” He reports that this little book “presents in brief some of the main theses from two of the forthcoming volumes [of his theology trilogy], The Doctrine of the Word of God and The Doctrine of the Christian Life.” Frame has already published The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, which we hope to review in a future Trinity Review……

The question that must be asked at this point is this: What has happened to sola Scriptura? What has happened to the Reformation principle: the Bible alone? What has happened to the sufficiency of Scripture? Frame admits that “the Holy Scriptures play an absolutely crucial role in the overall organism of revelation,” but that role, he says, is “the covenant constitution of the people of God.”

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1-Chapter 5-The Word of God

January 2, 2015 1 comment

CHAPTER 5-THE WORD OF GOD (THE HOLY SCRIPTURES)

Christianity is the religion of a Book. Without this Book Christianity cannot be perpetuated. Wherever this Book has not gone there is no evidence of anything Christian. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ, and people cannot believe in Him of whom they have not heard: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (#Ro 10:14). And we are shut up to this Book for news about Jesus Christ. This Book is the Bible, and, in its original, is God’s word to us today. Efface the teachings of the Bible from human thought and Christianity passes into oblivion. The Bible is an infallible Book, sufficient and authoritative in all matters of religious faith and practice: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (#2Ti 3:16,17).

“Bring me the Book!” cried Sir Walter Scott on his death bed. “What Book?” he was asked. And this genius of the Scottish people replied, “There is but one Book; bring me the Bible!” When Queen Victoria was asked the secret of England’s greatness, she took down a copy of the scriptures and said, “This Book explains the power of Great Britain.”

SCRIPTURE VS. TRADITION

The word for Scripture in the Greek is “graphe” and means “a writing,” or “anything written.” The expression “holy scriptures” occurs only twice in the New Testament: “(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)”(#Ro 1:2); “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (#2Ti 3:15); but wherever the Scriptures are referred to, the Divine writings are meant. The usual reference is to the Old Testament writings, but Peter speaks of Paul’s epistles as Scripture: “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (#2Pe 3:16).

The Scriptures of our Lord’s day were the writings of the Old Testament. The Bible of that time was the Septuagint, which was the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament. To our Lord and the apostles the Old Testament was the word of God. This was the Book Christ challenged the Jews to search: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (#Joh 5:39). This was the Book He meant when He said “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;” (#Joh 10:35). This was the Book the Bereans searched to see if what Paul preached was true. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (#Ac 17:11).

Our Savior charged that the “traditions of men” were against the Scriptures. The Scriptures were the verbally inspired writings of God; the traditions of men were the teachings handed down by the Jewish elders. When the scribes and Pharisees charged Jesus with transgressing “the traditions of the elders,” He turned on them with this question: “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (#Mt 15:2,3). Before Saul of Tarsus became a believer in Jesus Christ: He was “exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers” (#Ga 1:14). But when he became a believer he renounced the traditions and turned to the Scriptures. There are many traditions which need to be given up today, things handed down that are contrary to Scripture.

REVELATION AND INSPIRATION

These two words must not be confused. The word of God came to the prophets; that was revelation. Inspiration is the method by which the word came through them to us. It is by inspiration that the revelation to them became a revelation to us. Without inspiration we would have no revelation, for the word of God does not come today as it came to men of old. This inspiration has given us a written revelation. God’s word which we have today is in the form or nature of a Book, the Bible.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (#2Ti 3:16). This does not say the prophets were inspired; inspiration has to do with the words; the words of scripture came from God; they were God breathed. It is not our purpose to enter the controversy about theories of inspiration, except to say that we believe in the verbal inspiration of the scriptures, which means that the very words were selected by God, and the men spake as they were borne along by the Holy Spirit. They were not given conceptions or ideas of truth; they were given words of truth and directed by the Spirit to put those words of truth in writing.

The human element in the production of the Bible is fully recognized, the Book came to us through human agency, but the human element was not allowed to hazard the accuracy or infallibility of the Book. The Bible is as accurate and infallible as if God had written it without the human agent. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (#2Pe 1:21).

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (#Heb 1:1). The Old Testament is the Divine record of what God said at different times and in different ways to Israel through their prophets. The New Testament is the Divine record of God speaking in the Son. The comparison between the prophets and Christ is to point a contrast. God was using the prophets to give His word to Israel; but in Christ it was God Himself speaking. The prophets were many; the Son is one. The prophets were servants; the Son is the Lord. The prophets were temporary; the Son abideth for ever. The prophets spoke the word; Christ is the Word.

The Bible is in two editions, commonly called the Old and the New Testaments. They are not two but one book. The Old Testament is the New enfolded; the New Testament is the Old unfolded. In the Old Testament the New is concealed; in the New Testament the Old is revealed. The Old is patent in the New; the New is latent in the Old. The Old is prediction; the New is fulfillment. The two Testaments have the same Author: God; they have the same subject: Christ. The crimson thread runs through the whole Bible. You can begin anywhere and, preach Jesus. In both Testaments it is recorded that the Lord said: “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me” (#Ps 40:7); “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (#Heb 10:7). And in #Re 19:10: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Martin Luther quaintly compared the two testaments to the two men who brought the branch with the cluster of grapes from the promised land. They were both bearing the same fruit; but the one in front did not see it, but knew what he was carrying. The other saw both the fruit and the man who was helping him. The prophets who came before Jesus testified of Him, although they did not see Him; and we who live since He came, see both Him and them.

ARGUMENTS THAT THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD

1. There is a presumption in its favor. Man needs a revelation from God, and if the Bible is not this revelation we have none. To be sure there are the sacred books of other religions, but they are like the gods they witness to, and are obviously not the revelation of the true and living God. Man needs the kind of revelation we have in the Bible. There is a revelation of God in nature, but this revelation is inadequate; it does not cover enough subjects. Nature reveals His eternal power and Deity, but has nothing to say about His moral qualities. Nature tells us there is a God, but it does not tell us what He is. A savage on an island far removed from civilization, finding a watch, might reach the conclusion that it was made by man, but he could not, by examining the watch, learn anything about the character of the maker. And man cannot learn the character of the Creator through the study of geology, biology, and astronomy. The Bible makes no effort to prove the existence of God, but it goes to great lengths in telling us what God is. He is revealed in His mode of existence and in His many moral perfections.

Man is in darkness about himself. He needs a written revelation to tell him what he is, whence he came, and, whither he is bound. The Bible answers every question concerning the eternal welfare of the human soul. It convicts every man of sin and tells him how to be saved. Yes, there is a presumption in favor of the Bible. Man needs a revelation; God is able to give it, and the Bible is the kind of revelation man needs. The Bible satisfies the thirsty soul.

2. The Bible claims to be the Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (#Joh 1:1). If the Bible is not what it claims to be it is a bad book. It is utterly inconsistent to extol the Bible as a good book, and at the same time deny its infallibility. All through the Bible runs the expression, “Thus saith the Lord.” This expression or its equivalent is used fully two thousand times in the Old Testament.

3. The testimony of Christ argues for the authenticity of the Bible. The Old Testament was in existence in His day, and He accepted it and quoted it as the word of God. The very book most frequently attacked by the critics (the book of Deuteronomy) was the book from which He made every quotation when tempted by Satan: “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live” (#De 8:3); “Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah” (#De 6:16); “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name” (#De 6:13), and compare with: #Lu 4:4-12: “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”

4. The uniqueness of the Bible attests its Divine origin. It is different from all other books. To drink at this fountain of Truth is to taste the difference. It is unique in its teaching about God, about creation, about man, about sin, and about salvation. It has been said that man could not have written such a book if he would, and he would not if he could. Any honest man, who knows much about the Bible, will readily admit that it cannot possibly be a human production.

5. The frankness with which this Book deals with its heroes and authors, gives abundant evidence that it is the word of God. Human biographies give only the bright and best side of a man’s life. They extol his virtues and praise his achievements, but say little or nothing about his weak points. But the characters of the Bible are painted in the colors of truth. The Bible does not whitewash.

6. The wonderful unity of the Bible is an argument for its inspiration. This is a miracle within itself. Penned on two continents, written in three languages, its composition and compilation extending through the slow progress of sixteen centuries, having about forty different authors; parts of it written in tents, palaces, dungeons, in cities and deserts; written in times of danger and in seasons of ecstatic joy; among its writers were judges, priests, kings, prophets, prime ministers, herdsmen, scribes, soldiers, physicians, and fishermen; yet in spite of these varying circumstances, conditions, and workmen, the Bible is one Book. It holds together. There is affinity one part for the other. The more this truth is pondered the more amazing is the Bible.

“Imagine forty persons of different nationalities, possessing various degrees of musical culture, visiting the organ of some great cathedral and at long intervals of time, and without any collusion whatever, striking sixty-six different notes, which when combined yielded the theme of the grandest oroatorio ever heard: would it not show that behind these forty different men there was one presiding mind, one great Tone-Master? As we listen to some great orchestra, with its immense variety of instruments playing their different parts, but producing melody and harmony, we realize that at the back of these many musicians there is the personality and genius of the composer. And when we enter the halls of the Divine Academy and listen to the heavenly choirs singing the Song of Redemption, all in perfect accord and unison, we know that it is God Himself who has written the music and put this song into their mouths” (A. W. Pink).

7. Fulfilled prophecies give testimony to the Divine origin of the Bible. Prophecy is the foretelling of events before they come to pass. This is the acid test of Divine revelation. God’s appeal to fulfilled prophecy is made all through the Bible: “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (#De 18:22); “Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together” (#Isa 41:21-23); “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (#2Pe 1:19-21). Men may make some general predictions about the future, but the Bible contains hundreds of prophecies, which have been literally fulfilled hundreds of years after they were written.

7a) Prophecies about Christ. He is the one great subject of prophecy: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (#Re 19:10); “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (#Heb 10:7). Micah predicted His birthplace: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (#Mic 5:2). Isaiah said his mother would be a virgin: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (#Isa 7:14). We have many things about His death predicted in #Ps 22:1-22: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee,” and #Isa 53:1-12: “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” And in #Ps 16:10: “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” we have His resurrection foretold.

7b) Prophecies about the Jews. These like the prophecies about Christ, are too many to enumerate. Frederick the Great once demanded of one of his marshals, who was a devout believer, proof of the truth of the Bible in one word. “The Jew,” was the laconic, unanswerable reply. The destruction of their royal city, Jerusalem, was foretold years in advance. “And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city” (#Mt 22:1-7 24:1,2): “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” and #Lu 21:5,6: “And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Read the account of the destruction of Jerusalem by Josephus, who was with Titus in this campaign and afterwards wrote the history of it. The wandering Jew has long been a proverb in human history, but it was a Divine prophecy a long time before.

7c) Prophecies about Babylon. “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged” (#Isa 13:19-22); “For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD. I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts” (#Isa 14:22,23); “Therefore hear ye the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Babylon; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the land of the Chaldeans: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitation desolate with them. At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations” (#Jer 50:45-46). Of all the cities in prophecy apart from Jerusalem, Babylon figures most prominently. Babylon is mentioned in Genesis and in Revelation. This city is Divinely threatened through Isaiah; at great length through Jeremiah, and there are further threatenings through John in the book of Revelation. It would be interesting and profitable for the student, by the use of concordance, to read all the Bible says about Babylon.

7d) One of the most interesting bits of prophecy is that concerning Josiah, the boy king of Judah, who reigned from 637-608 B.C. When Jeroboam stood by his altar at Bethel to burn incense, an unknown prophet of God came out of Judah “And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee” (#1Ki 13:2). The date of this prophecy was 975 BC. Here is the prediction of the birth, and name, and deed of a later king of Judah, which took place three and one-half centuries later. The fulfillment is recorded in #2Ki 23:15,16: “Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words”. (#2Ki 23:15,16). The fulfillment took place 624 BC, or 351 years after the prophecy was spoken.

SOME GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BIBLE AS A DIVINE REVELATION

1. It is a religious Book. It is not a textbook on natural science, but a revelation of moral and saving truth. It was not written to tell men how to get on here, but to tell them how to prepare for the hereafter.

2. The Bible is an open Book. Its truths are not veiled in scientific language, but are given in the popular language of the people. If the Bible had been written in the scientific language of the first century it would have been out of date in the twentieth century. If it had been written in the language of the twentieth century nobody could have understood it until a few years ago. If written in scientific language only the scholars could understand it. The Bible was not written for scholars but for men. It is the people’s Book. It was delivered to the saints, not to the pope, or priest, or cleric. If the gospel is veiled the veil is not on the Book but on the human heart. The best qualification for understanding it is a sincere and honest and Spirit-enlightened mind.

3. The Bible is a practical Book. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (#2Ti 3:16). The value of the Bible is beyond human appraisal. This book came from God and takes us to God. I know it came from God because it treats the subjects beyond the human intellect. The Bible shows the way to God, and how to become righteous before his Holy law. It is a manual of life and conduct. It was not given to adorn a table, but to direct a life. Read this Book to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. As another has said, “know it in the head, store it in the heart, show it in the life, and sow it in the world.”

4. The Bible is an immortal Book. All other books die. It can be said of the Bible as was said of Christ: “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth” (#Ps 110:3). Time writes no wrinkles on the brow of the eternal Word. The Bible is the world’s best seller and at the same time the most hated of all books. Every weapon from the arsenal of hell has been used against it. All the strategists of Satan’s empire have collaborated in an effort to destroy it. But the Bible is a living and indestructible Book. It has survived the fires of pagan and papal Rome, and the sophistries of all opposing philosophers. It triumphed over the arguments of Ingersoll, the ridicule of Voltaire, and the reasonings of Tom Paine. “For ever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven” (#Ps 119:89). The Bible is like the bush which Moses saw burning but not consumed, for God was in it. It is like the anvil that wears out all the hammers.

“Yes, like a solid anvil the sacred Scripture stands,
And fiercely is it beaten by unbeliever’s hands;
With noise and show of learning they make a large display,
But, like the blackemith’s hammer they wear themselves away.”

5. The Bible is an expensive Book. The cost to us is not much. We enter a book store and ask for a Bible; we lay down the price, one dollar, two dollars, or ten dollars as the case may be. But is that the cost of the Bible? God in providential mercy has made the costliest of all books cheap to us. We estimate the value of an article by the cost of producing it. The Bible is a costly Book in its human aspect. Men sank their lives in medieval monasteries to make copies of it for future generations. Then there was the cost to martyrs who laid down their lives for love of the truth when pope or pagan would try to sweep away every copy of it. The Bible also represents a cost to God. From Genesis to Revelation it is written in the blood of His Son. The Old Testament is the finger of prophecy pointing forward to Calvary; the New Testament is the finger of history pointing back to Calvary. To write the message of love we have in the Bible God broke the heart of His Son on the cross. In olden times the word of God was inscribed on parchment which was the skin of sheep and today it is written on paper. The parchment speaks of the Lamb slain that its skin might clothe and its blood might atone, and that its skin might also bear the news of gracious love to sinners. The paper made from wood crushed into pulp reminds us that the Tree of Life was cut down and crushed on Calvary, crushed and marred beyond all the sons of men, that He might bear the glad tidings of God’s love.

METAPHORS OR SYMBOLS OF THE WORD

It is both interesting and instructive to study the symbols or figures under which the Word of God is set forth.

1. It is likened to a lamp or light: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path…The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (#Ps 119:105,130); “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:” (#Pr 6:23). The word of God is to man morally what a lamp is physically. This world is in a state of moral darkness; ignorant of how to become righteous before God, but God’s word is a light shining in a dark place, and every believer delights to say, “The entrance of Thy words giveth light” (#Ps 119:130).

2. The Bible is a mirror: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (#2Co 3:18); “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (#Jas 1:25). This cannot be said of any other book. I look into the Bible and see myself, not as I think I am, but as I really am, guilty and ruined: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (#Ro 3:19). The Bible is a mouth stopper. The least way to stop a man’s boasting is to have him look at himself in the mirror of God’s holy word.

3. The word of God is a laver or wash basin: “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (#Eph 5:26). The very Book that reveals moral dirt also provides for washing. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (#Ps 119:9). “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (#Joh 15:3).

4. The Bible is represented as food: “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (#Job 23:12). Every man by nature is a prodigal away from the Father’s house and perishing with hunger; in the word of God we find the gospel table ladened with soul satisfying food. There is milk for babes, and strong meat for men. There is bread for the hungry and honey for those who can take the sweets. The fat soul is the one who feeds upon the word of God.

5. The word of God is compared to a hammer: “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (#Jer 23:29). The best way to break stony hearts is to quote Scripture. These is no heart too hard for the word when wielded by the Spirit. It caused the hard hearted jailer to cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” (#Ac 16:30).

6. The word is called the sword of the Spirit: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” (#Eph 6:17). It is a perfect weapon with which to resist Satan. And the Holy Spirit knows how to use it in cutting the sinner to the heart and killing his self-righteousness.” For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (#Heb 4:12).

7. The word is likened to seed: “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God” (#Lu 8:11). In spiritual as in natural farming the seed must be sown. It is the commission of our Lord to sow this world down with the word of God. We must sow beside all waters, and at all seasons. “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good” (#Ec 11:6).

“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious
seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his
sheaves with him” (#Ps 126:6).

“Say, Christian, wouldst thou thrive
In knowledge of thy Lord?
Against no Scripture ever strive,
But tremble at His word.

“Revere the sacred page;
To injure any part
Betrays with blind and feeble rage,
A hard and haughty heart.

“If aught there dark appear,
Bewail thy want of sight;
No imperfection can be there,
For all God’s words are right.

“The Scriptures and the Lord
Bear one tremendous name;
The written and the Incarnate Word
In all things are the same.

“For Jesus is the Truth,
As well as Life and Way;
The two-edged sword that’s in His mouth
Shall all proud reasoners slay.

“Why dost thou call Him Lord,
And what He says resist?
The soul that stumbles at the Word,
Offended is at Christ.

“The thoughts of man are lies,
The Word of God is true.
To bow to that is to be wise;
Then hear, and fear, and do.”

—Joseph Hart.

 

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1